This is the first major post-Brexit treaty for London. The United Kingdom and Japan signed their bilateral trade agreement on Friday October 23 in Tokyo, while intense negotiations continue between the British and the Europeans.
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Covering sectors ranging from textiles to new technologies, cheese and auto parts, the treaty, which was announced on September 11 in London, largely reproduces the existing EU-Japan agreement.
The Japanese-British agreement will enter into force on 1er January 2021, to coincide with the end of the transition period with the European Union after Brexit, which started on January 31, 2020. It was signed in a brief ceremony in the presence of the British Minister for International Trade Liz Truss and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. The Japanese parliament will still have to ratify it by the end of the year.
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The text was presented by the United Kingdom as a way to increase trade with Japan by £ 15.2 billion (€ 16.8 billion at the current rate). Trade between the two countries was worth more than £ 30 billion in 2019, the British government recalled. However, this is very little compared to trade between London and the EU (nearly 700 billion pounds in 2019).
In a press release published ahead of the signing, London did not fail to highlight the advantages of the agreement with Tokyo compared to past arrangements with the EU. “Shaped by Great Britain”, he will “Beyond the agreement with the EU” and guarantees “Tailor-made benefits for British citizens and businessmen”, according to the press release.
It also secures major gains “Which would be impossible with membership of the EU”, London insisted again. Finally, the agreement paves the way for the UK to “Closer ties” with 11 Pacific countries under the Trans-Pacific Trade Treaty (CPTPP).
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The UK and the EU resumed difficult negotiations on their future trade relations on Thursday (October 22nd) after a week of paralysis. Both sides need to avoid economic chaos at the end of the year, when major sticking points remain.